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Thread: Using a press camera

  1. #1

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    Using a press camera

    I have a 4x5 Crown Graphic that I want to use handheld but I'm finding it hard to do so. Maybe it's just a matter of getting used to it, but I feel like in focusing, framing, and then taking the picture, well, I feel like I'm too slow and I'm missing something. I know it's possible to do all kinds of photography using this camera, there are examples of it being used as a street camera, to do portraiture, sports photography, etc, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. Are there any books or videos on technique about using the Crown Graphic handheld?

    Thanks.

    (4x5 Crown Graphic, 135mm lens.)
    --Mario

  2. #2
    IanG's Avatar
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    Re: Using a press camera

    I don't know about books, I do use a Crwown Graphic or a Super Graphic hand held and it's fast:

    First - I shoot HP5 at 400EI when working hand held usually at 1/125 or 1/250 @ f22, but I'll go to 1/6o or even 1/30 @ f16 if needed.

    Second - I compose on the Ground glass screen both cameras have frensnels and focus hoods, I might use slight front tilt.

    Third - I check the focus and framing paying attention to the dges, lock the focus.

    Fourth - close the lens and stop down, check shutter's cocked and closed

    Fifth - load the DDS (film holder) and remove athe sheath turn around and push in very slightly then DDS.,.

    Sixth - recompose using the Wire frame finder and expose.

    Seventh - Push sheath fully home, remove DDS. open lens aperture and return to preview.

    It's far quicker to do in practice than to read what I've written. I'm shoting landscapes where tripods are banned (or takes too long to get written permission) I prefer to shoot at f22. The wire frame finder works even with a 90mm as well as my 150mm or a 203/210mm, as it moves with the front standard and stays relative to the lens board it's fine with slight movements and at different distances as well. Be aware there's 3 focus distance settings on the wire finder.

    You're doing sport and portraits so DOF is less important as is edge/corner sharpness so you can work at widert apertures.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Re: Using a press camera

    Since you are new to the Graphic, you may not realize that the first secret to using it is how you hold it.
    The left strap is not used as a handle, but your hand should be slid UNDER the strap, holding it firmly but not painfully against the camera body.
    Enjoy -- using a press camera is a wonderful experience.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  4. #4
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Using a press camera

    Do not compare your hand helds to the crowds of press photogs from the old days. They used big, bright flashbulbs even in daylight, zone focusing and film packs rather than sheet film holders. And the flash unit was a good right hand handle. I use three different 4x5 press cameras with rangefinders and they are a b*tch especially if you do not have good grips.

    Add to that the fact that the negatives were rarely enlarged and you can see how faults were not readily apparent.

    Do you have a good left hand strap? How about something to hold onto on the right side? No need to get a classic bulb flash holder for that. The clamps that attach to the right side will do to hold a stout wooden dowel instead.

    Does this help a little?

    EDIT: There were a couple books showing Graflex practice. I might still have them. Will check when I get home later.

  5. #5

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    Re: Using a press camera

    Always remember: a cameraman is made, not born.

  6. #6

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    Re: Using a press camera

    Quote Originally Posted by IanG View Post
    I don't know about books, I do use a Crwown Graphic or a Super Graphic hand held and it's fast:

    First - ...
    Thanks Ian. I use HP5+ also. This is helpful.
    --Mario

  7. #7

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    Re: Using a press camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill_1856 View Post
    Since you are new to the Graphic, you may not realize that the first secret to using it is how you hold it.
    The left strap is not used as a handle, but your hand should be slid UNDER the strap, holding it firmly but not painfully against the camera body.
    Enjoy -- using a press camera is a wonderful experience.
    Yes, I do know what that strap is for.

    Thanks!
    --Mario

  8. #8

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    Re: Using a press camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    Do not compare your hand helds to the crowds of press photogs from the old days. They used big, bright flashbulbs even in daylight, zone focusing and film packs rather than sheet film holders. And the flash unit was a good right hand handle. I use three different 4x5 press cameras with rangefinders and they are a b*tch especially if you do not have good grips.

    Add to that the fact that the negatives were rarely enlarged and you can see how faults were not readily apparent.

    Do you have a good left hand strap? How about something to hold onto on the right side? No need to get a classic bulb flash holder for that. The clamps that attach to the right side will do to hold a stout wooden dowel instead.

    Does this help a little?

    EDIT: There were a couple books showing Graflex practice. I might still have them. Will check when I get home later.
    My left hand strap is in excellent condition and I use it for grip. I also bend my finger around the indenture ("U" shape) on the left hand side. On the right side I have the metal clamp that attaches to the bulb flash holder, which I have too but not attached to the camera right now, but I place my right hand under the bed close to the shutter release button which I activate with my right index finger.

    Thanks.
    --Mario

  9. #9
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Using a press camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    [...]EDIT: There were a couple books showing Graflex practice. I might still have them. Will check when I get home later.
    EDIT AGAIN: I'm home and found in storage the 1940 and 1944 editions of Graphic Graflex Photography. The Master Book for the Larger Camera.

  10. #10
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Using a press camera

    Quote Originally Posted by macandal View Post
    My left hand strap is in excellent condition and I use it for grip. I also bend my finger around the indenture ("U" shape) on the left hand side. On the right side I have the metal clamp that attaches to the bulb flash holder, which I have too but not attached to the camera right now, but I place my right hand under the bed close to the shutter release button which I activate with my right index finger.

    Thanks.
    That works for me, too. If you wish to pursue a right-hand grip let me know and I will try to supply the parts # and dimensions.
    .

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